Let’s zero in on a product manager’s core responsibilities. Although the scope of work is broad, your day-to-day responsibilities can typically be broken down into the following six areas:
- Setting strategy
At the highest level, you are responsible for setting your product’s vision and strategic direction. You need to be able to clearly articulate the business case of a given initiative or feature so your team understands why you are building it.
Strategic planning involves laying out major areas of investment so you can prioritize what matters most to achieve your product goals. You also own the product roadmap — a timeline that visualizes what you will deliver and when.
- Defining releases
Product managers translate product strategy into planned work — defining what you will build and when you will launch it. This holds true no matter which development methodology your engineering team uses.
You are responsible for managing the release process and cross-functional dependencies — all of the activities required to bring new products, features, and functionality to market. This involves bridging gaps between different functions within the company and aligning key teams — including marketing, sales, and customer support.
- Evaluating ideas
Every organization wants better ideas for a successful product. Product managers are responsible for crowdsourcing, developing, and curating ideas that will deliver value to customers. You own the organization’s idea management process and determine which ideas should be promoted to your backlog in order to propel the product strategy forward.
To this end, product owners also ensure that feedback and requests are integrated into the product planning and development processes. You communicate the status of ideas back to your customers, partners, and internal teammates who submitted them.
- Prioritizing features
Product managers prioritize features by ranking them against the strategic goals and initiatives. You have to make difficult trade-off decisions based on the value a new feature will deliver to your customers and the business.
You are also responsible for defining featured requirements and the desired user experience. You work closely with engineering on the technical specifications and ensure that teams have all of the information they need to deliver a complete product to market.
- Building and sharing strategic roadmaps
Creating and updating your product roadmap is one of the most powerful communication tools you have as a product manager. A product roadmap visualizes how your product will achieve your business objectives and helps keep work on track.
There are many different types of roadmaps you can create depending on who you are presenting to and what you are trying to convey. Executives tend to want to know the high-level plans, while engineers and designers will need to understand exact timing and sequencing of important work.
- Analyzing and reporting on progress
Great product managers are laser-focused on results — for customers and for the business as a whole. You need a complete view of progress towards goals to understand how your product is performing.
Consider the list below as a starting point to spark inspiration and keep your team focused on delivering its best work:
How are the most important initiatives progressing?
Which inefficiencies or blockers need to be addressed?
Are we satisfied with team velocity?
Are there any capacity issues that need to be resolved?